“N&S: John Thornton, Love Lessons”, Ch. 67 (PG-13): The Cycle of Life, June 24, 2014 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #589)
[I will illustrate my story using my dream cast from the 2004 BBC production of “North & South” and other actors for additional characters: Richard Armitage for John Thornton, Daniela Denby-Ashe for Margaret Hale, Lesley Manville for Mrs. Maria Hale, Tim Pigott-Smith for Mr. Richard Hale, Sinead Cusack for Mrs. Hannah Thornton Ogilvy, Jo Joyner for Fiona/Fanny Thornton Ogilvy, Brendan Coyle for Nicholas Higgins, Graham McTavish as Dr. Cameron Ogilvy, Holliday Grainger for Angharad Ogilvy MacIntosh, Simon Woods for Baird Ogilvy, and Emma Ashton as Mrs. Dillard, John Light as Henry Lennox, Tim Faraday as Watson, Gillian Anderson at Carlotta Quint Watson, Jeremy Northam as Dr. Miles Houghton, Gerard Butler as Lord Jamie Ogilvy, and Juliette Lewis as Lady Thistle Ogilvy, etc.] [(1) story logo]
Author’s Mature Content Note: “N&S: John Thornton, Love Lessons” is a story with mature themes of love and relationships set within a period drama of the 1850’s. As such there will be heartfelt moments of love and sensuality (S)–as well as other dramatic emotions (D), including some violence (V)–and I will rate those chapters accordingly. If you are unable or unwilling to attend a movie with the ratings that I provide, then please do not read that chapter. This is my disclaimer.
Author’s Recap from the previous chapter: Before meeting their new little niece, Audrey Grace Thornton, Lord Baird Ogilvy learned about his wife Lady Fiona’s assisting during the birth of their sister-in-law Margaret Thornton’s baby–and the resultant fears that Fiona’s has about her having to suffer through a similar birthing ordeal when the time comes for their baby to be born. But Baird and his sister Lady Angharad Ogilvy MacIntosh help soothe Fiona by truthfully telling her that his and Angharad’s birthing weights were small and under six pounds. This somewhat assuages Fiona’s concerns. And Hannah and Cameron being wed almost two months before Fiona and Baird, also await their child’s birth. But first, Baby Audrey Grace has some important people to meet.
“N&S: John Thornton, Love Lessons”, Ch. 67 (PG-13): The Cycle of Life
Though John Thornton swiftly posted a letter via express mail train to Margaret’s parents the Hales in Milton about the birth of their daughter Audrey Grace, Margaret and the baby are not able to travel home to Milton until two weeks later on Saturday July 5th, 1851 due to Margaret still recovering from the birth. Hannah and Cameron also travel back with them–since Cameron is Margaret’s physician and she will still be recuperating over the next month.
Perhaps it is because Margaret has been apart from her mother and father for the last three weeks while they were in Scotland for the Highland Games and then recovering from the birth–or a woman’s intuition, given that Margaret’s mother’s health has been in rapid decline these past few months–but on their way home to Thornton Manor from the train station, Margaret resolutely insists that they stop at Crampton to see her parents and show them their baby daughter, Audrey Grace. John is not happy about it because Margaret is still in such a delicate condition, but Cameron as her physician and father-in-law grudgingly agrees with Margaret–as long as they do not spend more than a half hour there. Margaret and the baby must get home and rest.
After dropping Hannah and Cameron off at their home above his medical practice, John and Margaret travel on to Crampton. The last few yards are difficult since the large Thornton carriage cannot fit through the street archway. So John helps Margaret alight from the carriage and directs their driver to deposit their trunks and belongings at Thornton Manor and then return for them in a half hour. Margaret is still weak as she slowly climbs the Crampton homes’ front steps while John carries their baby daughter and their baby bag of necessities. Margaret catches her breath and then knocks upon the front door. Dixon opens the door.
Dixon: “Why! Miss Margaret! You have come home!” She cries out relievedly and uncharacteristically embraces Margaret.
Dixon had often embraced Margaret when she was a little girl. But as Margaret grew and took her place in society, it was not appropriate for the servant Dixon to get above her station by openly showing her affection for her young miss. Margaret smiles with a raised eyebrow for Dixon still calling her Miss Margaret–when she is Mrs. Thornton now.
Margaret: “Dixon! We are just home from Scotland and stopped by to visit my parents with our new baby before we settle in at home. Is my mother awake?”
Dixon’s face loses its cheerfulness with Margaret’s inquiry about her mother. Dixon wrings her hands and looks to John holding their sleeping baby, Audrey Grace. John tilts his head, wondering if they have come too late. The silence makes Margaret uneasy. John and Margaret each look tense [(2) right].
Margaret: “What is wrong, Dixon? Has my mother become more ill?”
Dixon: “Yes, she is.” Dixon says quietly, reverently.
Dixon using the present tense verb slightly eases Margaret’s and John’s mind.
But Dixon retains a sober look and a somber tone to her voice.
Dixon: Softly, she entreats Margaret. “It is good that you have come so quickly. I will take you to your parents.”
John and Margaret exchange a look of confusion, wondering if more is amiss than Mrs. Hale’s illness.
The three of them climb the steep and narrow Crampton House inner stairs–with Dixon carrying the baby bag so Mr. Thornton might use his free hand not holding the baby to grip the railing to steady himself. Once at the second floor bedchamber hallway, they swiftly make their way to the second door on the right, Mrs. Hales’ bedchamber. Dixon softly knocks upon the door, then opens it.
Dixon: “Mrs. Maria, I have some visitors to cheer you.” Dixon smiles caringly as they walk into the room.
Mr. Hale: Looking up from his book that he had fallen asleep reading, Mr. Hale looks surprised and relieved as he stands . “Margaret! John! We are so glad that you have come! Aren’t we, Maria My Dear?”
Mr. Hale turns to the frail figure of his wife looking even more tiny in the double bed that they used to share together. Mrs. Hale’s illness has progressed to the point that she needs such constant care–with changing of clothes and bed linens sometimes twice a day, and her back hurting her when the weight of Mr. Hale’s depression upon the bed causes the mattress to change shape–that he has removed himself to an adjoining bed chamber. Though, Mr. Hale often sleeps in a chair by her side, holding her hand. John and Margaret can see how haggard Mr. Hale looks from tending to his wife and worrying about her.
Margaret and John also notice the marked change in Mrs. Hale and Margaret goes to her mother instantly and embraces her.
Margaret: “Oh Mother! I wish we could have come sooner! But Audrey’s birth was so difficult for me, Cameron would not let me travel until today. So we came straight away.” Mother and daughter gaze at each other soulfully.
Mrs. Hale: “My Margaret.” Mrs. Hale sighs weakly caressing her daughter’s cheek. “Is the baby with you?” She asks hopefully. Mrs. Hale is not wearing her spectacles since she has been sleeping–and her eyesight only allows her to see things close up anyway.
John: “Yes, Mother.” John uses familiar address with his in-laws, as does Margaret with his mother Hannah.
John walks over to Margaret and gently places baby Audrey in her arms.
Margaret: “Mother, this is Audrey Grace–your grandchild and namesake.” Margaret gently places little Audrey in her mother’s arms, kneeling down bedside the bed and keeping her arm underneath her mother’s arm to help support the baby’s weight. Margaret tries to hold back her tears of joy at having this moment of sharing her daughter with her mother, but she finds that she cannot.
Mrs. Hale: “Ohhh!” Mrs. Hale gazes in wonder at her new little granddaughter in her arms.
Baby Audrey shrugs her shoulders in now being in a third person’s arms–and unfamiliar arms at that. But she is not fussy, since she is still not quite awake.
Baby Audrey: “Hhhhh!” Baby Audrey scrunches up her face and yawns as she moves her fisted little hands to her face.
Mr. Hale: Tearing up at seeing his wife holding their granddaughter, Mr. Hale marvels. “She is the picture of Margaret as a baby.”
Mrs. Hale: “She is.” Mrs. Hale agrees softly. But it is loud enough to waken Baby Audrey more fully–first one eye, and then another still blue eye opens and looks into her grandmother’s smiling face.
Baby Audrey: “Ah ee ya.” The baby gurgles happily for being cuddled, then she frowns. Finally Baby Audrey loudly expels gas in the form of a burp. “Aggghh!” And then she smiles again in no longer feeling the discomfort of a bloated tummy
The adults in the room laugh: “Ha ha ha ha ha!”
Margaret: “Oh my! That is her loudest burp yet.”
John: Smiling amusedly, he adds. “She puts me to shame. Ha ha ha!” He chuckles for his baby burping–and for revealing to his in-laws that he burps on occasion.
Mrs. Hale: “Well My Dears, it is far better for a baby to be comfortable, than not. And she is such a solid little bundle.” Mrs. Hale remarks cheerfully about the baby’s weight and size.
Margaret: Rolling her eyes, Margaret sighs. “Yes! She did not want to come out.” Then Margaret winces in remembered and some continuing pain.
John: Leaning down and caressing his kneeling wife’s shoulders, John kisses her temple. “Margaret had to endure so much with Audrey’s birth.”
Mrs. Hale looks at Margaret and Margaret sadly nods her head.
Mrs. Hale: “I, too, had a difficult time when Frederick was born. But eight years later when we had Margaret, it was not quite so bad.” Mrs. Hale tries to sound hopeful and soothing.
But Margaret casts her eyes downward, worried that John will change his mind and expect her to give him a second child–a son. However, John assuages her fears.
John: “Ah. But Margaret and I have agreed that Audrey will be our only child–unless we adopt in the future.” John squeezes Margaret’s shoulders comfortingly and she nods her head in relief.
Mr. Hale: “But John, do you not want a son?” Mr. Hale asks without thinking that he is making his daughter Margaret feel as if she is disappointing her husband by questioning their decision. Margaret bites her lower lip and winces.
John: “No.” John replies firmly but softly to Mr Hale. Then he kneels down next to Margaret at her mother’s bedside and embraces Margaret. “My Margaret will never endure child birth again. I almost lost her.” John stares at Mr. Hale, whose eyes widen in understanding. And then John looks to Mrs. Hale who smiles gratefully to him. “There are so many children who need families–and we can well provide for them–it will be a privilege for us to become their parents.”
Mrs. Hale: “That is lovely.” She sighs, obviously getting tired again–Mrs. Hale’s joy at seeing Margaret and her granddaughter is eclipsed by her illness taking its toll.
Margaret: Seeing her mother’s fatigue and not wanting to waste a moment, Margaret quickly asks her father. “Father, Audrey Grace has not been baptized yet. Will you do so now, in the presence of Mother?”
Mr. Hale: “Oh My Dears, I will be honored.” He understands his daughter’s reasoning and agrees with it. “I will just fetch my book of common prayer.
Silent up until now, except for her sniffling tears of sentiment as she sees the three generations of Hale women together–Maria Hale, Margaret Hale Thornton, and Baby Audrey Grace Thornton–Dixon offers.
Dixon: “I’ll fetch you some water in a silver bowl.” She curtsies, then leaves also.
After a few minutes, both Mr. Hale and Dixon return to Mrs. Hale’s bed chamber. Baby Audrey Grace stays within her Grandmother’s arms with Mrs. Hale smiling lovingly down at her, as her Grandfather blesses and baptizes her in a poignantly intimate family ceremony. John and Margaret look on proudly. They will have a more formal church chapel christening and celebration for Baby Audrey Grace when the baby is two months old. But they did not want to wait for fear of Mrs. Hale’s precarious health. Gone are the days when the Hales can socialize at parties as they used to do [(3) right].
John and Margaret and Baby Audrey Grace take their leave from Margaret’s parents, parting with many kisses and promises to return the next day.
True to her word, Margaret returns to visit her mother at Crampton nearly every day in the mornings. Though she does not always bring Baby Audrey Grace with her since Margaret does not wish to expose her baby to the ill humors or diseases that might be found in the more congested areas of the city that she must past through to travel to her parents’ home. Some days, John joins Margaret at her parents home and they bring tea to the Hales–sitting chatting in Mrs. Hales bed chamber since she is too ill to be moved downstairs.
On the Friday July 11th afternoon following their return to Milton, John and Margaret are paying a tea time visit and John takes Mr. Hale aside into his study. It is on these occasions that John and Mr. Hale resume their former teacher and pupil conversations–their lesson–which cheers Mr. Hale greatly.
Mr. Hale: Mr. Hale settles into his favorite rocking chair by the hearth and he slowly rocks. “What shall we discuss today, John? Aristotle, Plato, or perhaps a modern philosopher?” Mr. Hale smiles warmly at John.
John: Sitting in the stationary chair opposite Mr. Hale, John looks up admiringly at his father-in-law, teacher, and mentor. “Hhhhh! I wish to speak of the present.” John begins haltingly. “I want you to know that your bringing your family to Milton has completely transformed my life, giving it a happiness now and in the future that I had not thought possible.”
Mr. Hale: “John …” He stammers embarrassedly. Though he is a former rector, often having had to help families deal with emotional issues, Mr. Hale has rarely been comfortable in expressing sentiments himself.
John: “Please, I wish that you would hear me out.” John implores Mr. Hale earnestly.
Mr. Hale nods in understanding that John needs to say what he wants to say.
Mr. Hale: “As you wish, John. Please, speak.”
John: John softens in his tone as his voice trembles with emotion. “Mr. Hale. You are like a father to me–much more so than my own father was. For he imposed great burdens upon me with his death by his own hand, but you have lifted those burdens in your kindness toward me–and in giving me Margaret as my wife.”
Both men look at each other–their eyes moist, but that is as much as their male stoicism will allow. The elder man has lived a full life–with a loving wife, children, and now a grandchild. The younger man still has much of life before him to look forward to. They are like bookends in Mr. Hale’s study–the elder man reflective of memories of the past, the younger man hopeful of memories yet to be given life.
Mr. Hale: “Thank you, John.” Mr. Hale replies warmly. “Since my son Frederick is lost to me and must live apart from us, you have filled that void for me–especially with our talks and lessons. And Maria and I are so grateful of the happiness that you have bestowed upon our daughter Margaret.”
John: “Margaret’s happiness will ever be my life’s goal.”
Mr. Hale: “Margaret could not have found a finer husband than you anywhere, John.” Mr. Hale looks at John with respectful admiration.
John: “Thank you, Sir.” John sits up straighter in his chair. The Master of the Marlborough Mills, Magistrate, and leading Milton citizen John may be–but here, in this house in Crampton, John is simply a husband and son-in-law, striving for approval that he did not receive from his father growing up.
John and Mr. Hale continue to talk about a variety of topics–the new mills in Scotland being something that Mr. Hale is very eager to here about, as well as the progress of Thornton Village for Marlborough Mills workers.
Sitting by her mother’s bedside at tea time while John and her father converse in her father’s study, Margaret cradles Baby Audrey Grace in her arms. Margaret had not brought her baby the last time she visited her mother, so she wanted to be sure to bring her today–her almost three week birthday. Mrs. Hale looks even more pale–the white linen sheets her arms lay upon almost having more color in them than her skin does.
Margaret: “How are you feeling today, Mother?” Margaret asks caringly–not predisposing her mother’s response.
Mrs. Hale: Mrs. Hale smiles wanly. “I am always better for seeing you. But you should not come to see me so often while you are still recovering.”
Margaret: “I am feeling stronger every day.” Margaret rocks Baby Audrey in her arms. But Margaret tilts her mouth into a questioning expression.”
Even with her illness, Mrs. Hale can sense when something is troubling her normally outgoing and cheerful daughter.
Mrs. Hale: “What is wrong, My Dear?” Margaret pouts. “Come, come. I am your mother. Let me continue to be so by you unburdening yourself to me.” Mrs. Hale holds our her arms and Margaret stands up and she and her baby embrace her mother.
Baby Audrey: “Oo ee, llll.” The baby vocalizes for being slightly squished.
Margaret: Margaret stands up again to give the baby breathing room.“Oh no! I have harmed the baby!” Margaret wails. “I am not a good mother.”
Mrs. Hale: “I don’t hear any crying, my dear. She was merely squished–nothing compared to her birthing experience.” Margaret nods wincingly with her eyes lowered. “Margaret?”
Margaret: “Mother, Audrey Grace’s birth was so difficult–more painful than I had ever imagined.” Margaret tears up and places her baby on her shoulder so that Audrey Grace cannot see her cry as she gently strokes her baby’s back.
Mrs. Hale: “Childbirth is the hardest thing a woman ever has to do.” She nods in agreement.
Margaret: “Mother, you have always been so frail. How did you endure it?”
Mrs. Hale: “I didn’t, I fainted from the pain with Frederick and he was born without my knowing it. And with you as our second child? Well, you came quickly and were not so troublesome.” Mrs. Hale smiles.
Margaret: “But I can’t face going through childbirth again. And the long months of waiting, wondering if I will be in agony again–wondering if I or my baby will die. I can’t do it.” Margaret reveals her worst fears.
Mrs. Hale: “Margaret Dear, your fears are founded in your first experience in giving birth. I cannot fault you for that. But John has said that he will not ask you to become pregnant again. He is most understanding–as was your father after Frederick was born.” She smiles.
Margaret: “Yes Mother.” Margaret bites her lower lip.
Mrs. Hale: Mrs. Hale holds our her arms.“Let me hold Baby Audrey Grace again, and you tell me what continues to worry you.”
So Margaret stands up and takes the unused bed pillow and places it on her mother’s lap. Then Margaret gently lays her baby in her mother’s arms, supported by the pillow.
Margaret: “Mother, there are eight years between Frederick and I.” Margaret looks at her mother plaintively.
Mrs. Hale: “Yes.” Mrs. Hale looks at her daughter, confirming her math about the age difference.
Margaret: Margaret can hardly believe that she is contemplating asking her mother this question. “So you and father did not … for eight years?”
In Margaret’s still quite innocent mind, she can only conceive of one way not to become pregnant–not lying with her husband. And Margaret is a young woman whose passions are roused by her husband, John.
Mrs. Hale: “No.” Despite the pallor of her illness, Mrs. Hale’s cheeks do blush a faint pink. As a minister’s wife–a former minister, anyway–Maria Hale is expected to be above such corporeal considerations.
Margaret: Margaret looks confused. “No, you did not? … Or no, you did.”
Mrs. Hale: “Margaret, let me tell you a story. When your father was posted to Helstone, Frederick was already two years old. He was a lively toddler, and was quite a mischief maker as he grew older.” Margaret nods, remembering her brother teasing her when they were growing up together. “Well, there were several fine families with more than one child. The wives would lament to me about Frederick’s only child status, but secretly smile for their own fecundity.”
Margaret: “I remember that Mrs. Whipple had four children.”
Mrs. Hale: “Yes, and not long after she announced the coming of her fourth child, your Father and I realized that you were on the way. And Richard happily announced it to our parish one day after services when I was about four months along and just beginning to show a baby bump. Well! You should have heard the clucking by some of the wives about my being a minister’s wife and being in the family way. They were trying mightily to make me feel indecent. I wonder if they thought Frederick was adopted?” Mrs. Hale smiles at the memory. And Margaret nods and rolls her eyes.
Margaret: “But I never heard of any of this growing up. The ladies of the parish all seemed so nice.” Margaret is perplexed.
Mrs. Hale: “That was Mrs. Redmond’s doing. She and her husband were unable to have a child, and were hoping to adopt a baby one day. Well, that day in church after the other ladies had filed past me with their noses in the air, Mrs. Redmond stopped and embraced me warmly in front of all of them. She congratulated your father and I. Then she turned to the other ladies of the congregation and said–and I will never forget this–I never begrudge other people their happiness, even if it is a happiness I have not yet experienced. Will you not warmly congratulate Maria and Richard when they have been so generous to share their good news with us?”
Margaret: “Oh Mother!” Margaret sighs at the poignancy of her mother’s story.
Mrs. Hale: “That was all it took–someone to give them a good shaming.” Mrs. Hale smiles impishly. “Ha ha ha!
Margaret: “Ha ha ha!” She laughs joyously. Then she begins to cough while still holding the baby. “Kkhhh kkkhhh kkkhh!”
Margaret quickly takes Baby Audrey Grace from her mother’s arms as Dixon rushes forward to help Mrs. Hale. After several minutes of coughing, Dixon gives Mrs. Hale some water to drink and lays her back on her pillows, then Dixon discreetly retreats again to the sidelines. Mrs. Hale is now more exhausted than before the visit as she weakly lolls her head to one side to look upon her granddaughter in her daughter’s loving arms.
Margaret: “Oh Mother! I’m sorry to have tired you out so.” Margaret frets.
Mrs. Hale: “Nonsense, Margaret Dear. Every moment is precious. And my happiness in being your mother and Baby Audrey’s grandmother is something that I cherish. I love you very much, your father does, too.”
Margaret: Kissing her Mother’s forehead with tears in her eyes. “Oh Mother, I love you and Father both so much! I want you to be with me always.”
Mrs. Hale: “I will be with you always. As you experience the joy of guiding little Baby Audrey Grace through life, know that you were my joy. Your first smile, the feel of you in my arms when I rocked you to sleep, when you decided that my fine linen hankies would make wonderful furniture antimacassars” [(4)]. Margaret smiles wistfully apologetically. “… and when you visited the sick and the poor as a young girl with your father, with your social debut with Edith in London, on your wedding day, and now with you as a mother. The whole of my loveliest memories reside in you, Margaret Dear. Cherish them, as I do.”
Margaret: “Oh Mother.” Margaret sighs as her tears fall as she gently clasps her Mother’s hand in hers. Both ladies weep, but these are happy tears of a loving life shared together.
Margaret and her Mother and John and Mr. Hale have several more lovely visits together in the coming weeks.
As baby Audrey Grace’s one month birthday looms on July 21st next week as Margaret feels much better recovered from the birth. Though she and John have not as yet resumed their marital intimacies, Cameron had urged John to wait several months before seeking to share passions with his wife, Margaret, again. And John is ever considerate of Margaret as they cuddle chastely as they slumber.
Cameron has returned to a part-time capacity as physician while he and Hannah live in Milton over the Summer–tending to mostly the older patients, while Dr. Miles Houghton attends to the younger patients and families. So Cameron is not always able to make Friday afternoon tea on time–as Hannah would like him to, for they generally host John and Margaret to tea on Fridays–now that Margaret and the baby are getting out and about more.
It is a picture of domestic bliss this Friday, July 18th–Margaret holding Baby Audrey Grace and sipping her tea, John munching a biscuit, and Hannah presiding at tea in her home with Cameron. Hannah hears the front door open as she hands John his tea and she stands to greet her husband Cameron as he enters the room. John and Margaret also stand–with John caringly putting his arm around Margaret and their baby.
Hannah: “You are late again, Cameron.” She sighs with a bemused grin for her Scottish Lord.
Cameron: “Aye, Lass. I am.” He smiles wanly at his wife. Then Cameron slowly turns to John and Margaret.
John: “Cameron?” John queries, but he knows by Cameron’s somber expression what he is about to tell them.
Cameron: “Please sit.” He gestures to the sette, and John and Margaret sit. Margaret begins to breath shallowly in worry. “Marrrgarret, I was called unexpectedly to yourrr parrrents’ home. Hhhhh! They have passed away.” He says as gently as he can.
Margaret: “No!” She wails. “My father is gone as well?” Margaret asks disbelivingly, with tears streaming down her face as her grief overwhelms her. Hannah tries to take the baby from her so Margaret can be consoled by John, but Margaret will not release her baby and hugs her closer to her breast even as John embraces here.
John: “I do not understand. Mrs. Hale was ill, not Mr. Hale.” John’s face registers his shock.
Cameron: “Even as a physician for nearrrly forrrty years, I do not prrretend to underrrstand the mysterrries of life and death. Yourrr motherrr died peacefully in her sleep about an hourrr ago, Margaret. And it seems that yourrr fatherr had laid down next to herrr to say a final goodbye, and his hearrrt could not sustain herrr loss, and he passed away, too. They werrre a devoted and loving couple–in life and in death.” Cameron smiles caringly at Margaret whose face is pressed into her husband’s wool jacketed chest as she sobs.
Then Cameron gazes upon his own dear wife, Hannah, whose eyes are moist with sadness. Hannah reaches for baby Audrey again and Margaret relinquishes her baby to her mother-in-law as John fully embraces her as she weeps mournfully. The heart cannot be consoled what the mind cannot comprehend.
In one awful moment, Margaret Hale Thornton becomes an orphan. Her baby loses two of its grandparents. And John loses a man he had looked up to as a father figure. The fragile world of Margaret’s Mother’s illness being their new normal had reached its inevitable conclusion with her death. And its finality is brought home by Mr. Hale joining his wife in eternity’s repose.
As Christians–with Mr. Hale being a former Rector and spiritual leader–their belief is that they will see one another again in heaven. And in time, that belief may comfort Margaret. But right now, this moment, Margaret would wish for heaven not to be so greedy as to take both of her parents–nor to take either of them. Let Margaret’s need for her Mother and Father, and her baby’s need for her grandparents override God’s call to welcome their souls to heaven. Let the angels sing in chorus with two less voices to blend with them. It is not fair, it is not right. And Margaret weeps for having come through the difficulties of birthing her child only to have her parents snatched from her.
John lets Margaret have her cry, even as a single tear falls upon his own cheek. Why must life seem to have as much or more sorrow than it does joy? John wonders if there is a balance scale that will not let a person have too much happiness, for fear that they would come to expect happiness? Because with the expectation of happiness comes an abiding hope for the future.
Yet John’s and Margaret’s futures now are altered with the passing of Maria Beresford Hale and the Rev. Richard Hale. The next week is a blur as Aunt Shaw in London is notified of her sister’s death and travels to Milton to attend the funeral. Margaret also takes great comfort in her cousin Edith, and Baird and Fiona also attending. It is a lovely and simple funeral service–dignified in its restraint of ecclesiastical trappings as Margaret’s Father Mr. Hale would approve, yet the Hale’s polished wooden caskets are lovingly adorned with dozens of yellow roses that would have cheered Mrs. Hale, in reminding her of their beloved Helstone.
In loving and marrying Margaret, John now has that expectation of happiness–an abiding hope for the future. Yet several decades from now, when John and Margaret are old and withered, they too will experience their waning days and inevitable deaths. Life is precious and it is short–not to be wasted upon regret, nor squandered by failing to see “joy in the morning” [(5)] . And John and Margaret have much to live for and to be joyful of–especially in their one month old baby daughter, named for her grandmothers, Audrey Grace.
To be continued with Chapter 68
“N&S: JT Love Lessons”, Ch. 67 References, June 24, 2014 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #589)
1) “N&S: John Thornton, Love Lessons” story logo: Richard Armitage as John Thornton and Daniela Denby-Ashe in the 2004 BBC period drama North & South, was found at richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode3/ns3-110.jpg ; For more information about this wonderful 2004 BBC miniseries adaptation of Elizabeth’s Gaskell’s story North & South, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_&_South_%28TV_serial%29
2) Cropped and masked image of John Thornton (as portrayed by Richard Armitage) from the BBC’s 2004 production of North & South, Promo pix 17 was found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/NandSPromo/album/slides/NandSPromo-17.html; composited with Composite image of Margaret Hale’s head (as portrayed by Daniela Denby-Ashe) from the North & South music soundtrack dvd cover found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/NandSPromo/album/slides/NandSPromo-12.html; and a pink Victorian dress found at http://fripperiesandfobs.tumblr.com/post/12025132525/dress-ca-late-1830s-from-the-centre-de; photo manip done by Gratiana Lovelace, 3/25/12.
3) ) Image of Mr. and Mrs. Hale (as portrayed by Tim Pigott-Smith and Lesley Manville) was found at http://www.panhistoria.com/Stacks/Novels/Character_Homes/homedirs/19705images/mrandmrshale.jpg
4) An antimacassar is a fine linen cloth or lace doily placed on chair arms or backs to prevent soiling from contact with people’s arms and heads; more information is found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antimacassar
5) Psalm 30 (“Joy in the morning), verse 4 & 5: “4Sing to Yahweh, you His faithful ones, and praise His holy name. 5 For His anger lasts only a moment, but His favor, a lifetime. Weeping may spend the night, but there is joy in the morning.” was found at http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+30&version=HCSB